WATCH LIVE: WBZ-TV News

The NFL Has A Scoring Problem – Potentially The Worst In Decades

By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Through two weeks of the 2017 season, NFL offenses are on a historically low pace. Touchdowns and points are both down from the same point in 2016, and the issue could end up going far beyond just one year.

With Week 2 in the books, NFL teams have scored 132 total touchdowns so far in 2017, or 2.13 per team per game. That’s down from 2.44 touchdowns per game through two weeks last season. Points are also down, as teams are averaging 20.1 per game as opposed to 22.6 in 2016. When the scoring has been high it’s typically been on one side, as 14 of 32 games so far have been won by 14 or more points.

Teams ended up with 2.55 touchdowns per game in 2016, so some improvement is to be expected. But even if scoring increases at the same rate as last season, teams would average about 2.23 touchdowns per game by the end of the 2017 season.

Barring a more drastic jump, that would be the lowest touchdown average since (wait for it) the 1993 season, when teams averaged 2.02 touchdowns and 18.7 points per game. Steve Young led the league in passer rating (101.5) and passing touchdowns (29) that year.


SEE ALSO: Tom Brady Leads NFL In Passing Yards Through Two Weeks


It’s too early to tell if the current dip in scoring will last, or to know whether 2017 is just an outlier or a harbinger of a steep decline across the NFL. And it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint a singular reason as to why the points are falling off.

Quarterbacks and passing games could be blamed. Passer ratings are astronomical compared to 1993, as Drew Brees’ 102.0 rating (10th in NFL) would have led the league in 1993, but the total passing yards per game (220.7) so far are off the pace from 241.5 per game last season. Still, there should be enough competent quarterbacks in the league right now who can move the ball and score more consistently.

dl andy dalton bengals texans The NFL Has A Scoring Problem   Potentially The Worst In Decades

Benardrick McKinney of the Houston Texans sacks Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 14, 2017. The Texans defeated the Bengals 13-9.
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Another issue that has been pointed to is offensive line play. Through two weeks in 2017, only two offensive linemen in the entire league have graded as “Elite” according to Pro Football Focus: Falcons center Alex Mack and Steelers guard David DeCastro. Even the vaunted Cowboys offensive line, which features three former first-round picks, has averaged a poor 59.6 grade.

It also could have little to nothing to do with the offenses in the first place. Perhaps defenses are simply catching up, effectively counteracting the scoring jump seen in recent seasons. Considering the abundance of sub-packages and smaller units you’re seeing these days, defenses have certainly become faster and more skilled.

But forget the players; it could simply be the coaches. After Bill Belichick as the obvious No. 1 choice, it immediately becomes a debate as to who’s No. 2. Top-10, forget it. The lack of effective coaching may also be a byproduct of the league’s reduction in full-pad practices in the preseason, leaving teams less prepared for the start of the season than usual.

For fans who are sick of the fantasy football crowd and the NFL’s emphasis on offense in recent seasons, a tilt back toward defense would be a welcome change. But it hasn’t exactly looked like that kind of change. It’s not a case of offenses playing well and simply getting outplayed by better defenses. Execution has been off, defenses haven’t had to earn their stops, and it’s resulted in an ugly early-season product.


SEE ALSO: Top Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups For Week 3


The league’s mostly sloppy first two weeks have ostensibly contributed to a continued dip in TV ratings. Besides Monday Night Football and the Fox 4PM national TV window, all other NFL broadcasts were down in Week 2 compared to the same time in 2016, according to ShowBuzzDaily. It’s hard to tell how much the drop in scoring has directly impacted the ratings, but it surely hasn’t helped.

Scoring doesn’t need to get back to the levels of 2013, when the record-setting Broncos lit defenses up with little to no resistance (until the Super Bowl). But offenses at least need to look capable out there. The Bengals, 49ers, Giants, Seahawks, Texans, Colts, and Panthers have a whopping eight total touchdowns between them through two games each; like the rest of the league, they have nowhere to go but up. But the improvement must be even greater than in previous seasons, or else the NFL is in for an historic loss of offense – and entertainment value.

Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, CBS, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @Dolloff985 and email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.

Comments

One Comment

  1. I was starting quarterback of my team, called all my own plays, lost most of our games but I learned this with certainty: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SCORE WHEN YOU ARE ON YOUR KNEES!

    Tom Coyne

  2. It’s not low scoring that is affecting TV ratings. It’s ungrateful millionaires shi**ing on their country, the police, their fans, their employers, their teammates, coaches, owners and children.

    That kind of depravity, arrogance and shame is difficult to watch.

    1. Mike Johnson says:

      Frank, the reason for the low TV ratings the first week was because of the hurricane, that will be the same reason for the low ratings this week. The low ratings for the past Sunday night game was because the Broncos game went over. At least that is what the media and the NFL want us to believe!

  3. Al Holt says:

    If Colin Kaepernik were playing those numbers would be astronomical, off the charts. Ha, ha, ha…

  4. John Dillon says:

    Keep making political statements that are untrue and watch how low you can go. To get better ratings, tell the cops on the sideline protecting your rich butts from getting mauled by “fans” that they are racists who only kill black people and watch what happens.

  5. Hao De says:

    the main nfl “offense” is the employment of anti american thugs that give the finger to our flag and anthem.

    the nation already has enough domestic terrorists without sports fans rewarding more.

    enjoy the free broadcasts, just be certain to avoid buying the advertised products. worst are the “official sponsors”.

  6. Tom Walter says:

    If they spent more time practicing football and less time planning protests, they might figure out how to score better.

  7. mikey0 says:

    Gee, the esprit de corps seems to be down. Who would have thought that hating America could make you unhappy and unproductive? But it’s their RIGHT! Sure…..whatever…..CLICK.

  8. Run Miles says:

    Mix political statements with football, and the result is apathy! Not many people want to watch people getting paid a ton of money, show up at work and disrespect the country, our Flag, veterans, and the police!
    But the left smells blood, they think this is just another way to bring down the country! And they might be right, now a whole team of black 8 year olds took a knee. The left will see that as just another victory in their attempt to destroy the country!

    1. Mike Johnson says:

      RM. one would think that the other NFL players would start to realize that the very few players who are doing this are jeopardizing the pay checks of all the ones who aren’t. It TV ratings are down, and fan attendance is down, and merchandise purchases are down and they all stay down, there will be less money to pay players.

      1. Yirmin Snipe says:

        I can fix the rating in an instant. Just have the league draw up a list of unpatriotic players and then give any player on an opposing team a monetary bonus if they can knock them out cold, a bigger bonus if they can take them out the rest of the season and an even bigger bonus if they can end their career. You would get instant ratings increase for that whether your team won or lost you wouldn’t care just the joy of watching a Kaepernik getting their knee snapped would bring in viewers.

  9. Mike Johnson says:

    TV ratings are down! Let’s think about why that may be happening:

    1. Last year it was the election
    2. First week this year: Hurricane Irma
    3. Second week this year: Low scoring games are turning the hard core NFL fan off, and now they watch soccer instead?
    4. Sunday nights game this week: Blame it on the Bronco / Cowgirls one hour game delay, but don’t blame it on the Emmy’s, nobody watched that either.
    5. This week: Hurricane Maria, perhaps?

    I can’t think of anything else that could POSSIBLY be causing the hard core NFL fan from watching the games…and the reasons listed above are the obvious ones….right?

  10. Time to CHANGE their name from “National Football League” to “Nonsense Football League”…
    ’cause this “NATION” speaking out and has had enough of their FOOLISHNESS! #boycottNFL

  11. Ethel Weiss says:

    No longer watching the National Felon League….

  12. Jim Foles says:

    Maybe its the kickoffs after the scores… Time wasted for nothing… it takes time for official td verification. then the extra point.. then the time for the kick off.. the kickoff leaves the end zone… boring.. then its time for the offense to get to the 25… people change the station and then never get back to the game after a score…..

  13. Kneeling….. Stopped watching ESPN talk shows also.

  14. jbspryjbspry says:

    Call me naive…but if THIS is what football really is, if the average number of points made per game is sliced and diced as though calculating bushels-per-acre of soybean yield, then the whole idea of “playing for the love of the sport” and the excitement of competition is a sickly joke.

  15. Lilith Whyte says:

    The new Black Lives Matter Football League doesn’t resonate with my racist, fascist and privileged Caucasian family. We’ll stick to hockey and NASCAR.

  16. NFL penalizes players for pro America, but let the anti go unpunished. I stopped going to the movies because Hollywood can’t keep their politics to themselves. I have quit football for the same reason! It is not a matter of free speech! You have free speech when you are off your employers payroll period!

  17. Mike Alan says:

    Foottball is dead. The players are arrogant, the ticket prices are expensive, watching games on tv is boring as hell because its flooded with advertisements. They use to say baseball was boring and slow. Football took more timeouts, slowed the game and destroyed the essence of the game.

  18. The ‘Do-Gooders” have succeeded in placing the NFL in the same category as tobacco…
    ..It’s bad for you, and WE are going to ween you off of it by turning you against the product.

    ‘They’ AND the NFL are doing a good job at it, because I really don’t watch anymore. But I am still smoking.

  19. Re the “scoring problem:”….Holding and Pass Interference penalties are killing offensive momentum. Remember, through recent seasons, our bland play-by-play announcers serenely pointing out that this or that penalty is now A POINT OF EMPHASIS. The yellow flags have been proliferating ever since. Killing the game…let ’em play.

  20. Only suckers support “professional” athletics in any way.
    With few exceptions, most of the players would be in jail or on welfare were it not for the sport!

  21. Until the NFL and ESPN leave the political arena? I’m Done~! I’ll watch paint dry instead..

  22. If a touchdown is scored and nobody notices because of refusing to watch leftist arrogance, does it really count?

  23. Roger Jones says:

    Lower ratings are easy to explain.

    1. People have more options for entertainment.
    2. Political statements and reminding us NFL players are domestic abusers and PED users turns off fans. People do not watch football to hear about or see civil rights protests.
    3. Lots fans have no interest in fantasy leagues, so discussing them for hours, instead talking about teams and games is a big turnoff. Fantasy football takes away from favorite team fan loyalty. The games do not matter. The stats of your players is all that matters.
    4.Teams owned by billionaires with mostly millionaire players and negotiating taxpayer handouts for new stadiums, stadium upgrades and moves is a big fan turnoff.
    5. Hyping NE as the team to beat is a big turnoff too. Lots of us are sick of the Patriots and tired of hearing how great TB is, especially when we know if he played for Cleveland, or several other teams, he would have zero SB rings. It is team game. Great QBs because lousy QBs behind a poor OLine. Stop with QB hype.

  24. The NFL is a dying league, i give it maybe 10 years…..rule changes will continue to degrade the game, and people are leaving in droves due to ignorant black athletes who choose to trounce on American values….how ironic, they choose to destroy their only way out of abject poverty….just ignorance

  25. Professional football is failing because people are starting to see it for what it is: a senselessly brutal sport played by over privileged Neanderthals who receive enormous salaries for providing nothing of lasting value. It has become as corrupted as every other institution in the America today. It is a form of mass insanity.

  26. I think it’s a combination of things: the Hurricanes, the kneeling protests (polls show 75% of Whites do not support it, while 75% of Blacks do support it), very poor offensive play on many teams, Roger Goodell has turned off a lot of people, people are streaming online and not watching TV nearly as much to see these games, moving both the Rams and Chargers clearly hurt ratings (ratings way down in San Diego, for example, but not up in LA).

    But outside of that, I expect ratings to pick up and play to improve. I still love football. I’m not a hater.

  27. Jim Morrison says:

    if I want to watch disrespectful Negroes i’ll just watch the rioting and looting on the News.

  28. Dale Warren says:

    Well, who really expects the radical, alt-Left, anti-American, Progressive, community organizing activists currently impersonating professional football players to make playing football and scoring points on the gridiron a priority? That’s just silly.

  29. If it wasn’t for gambling and Fantasy Teams the NFL would been on its death bed now. The players don’t want to practice or hit each other so how on earth are we to expect the product not to suck?

  30. Ken Valley says:

    Until Roger Goodell and his liberal minions at the NFL starting fining and suspending players for taking a knew during the National Anthem, the ratings will continue to fall. Good! Maybe this wake up call to the NFL would be heeded and understood! Americans do not want their flag disrespected.

  31. Paul Roberts says:

    Godless, Anti Patriotic grand standers. Allow this in sports and see your following vaporize. We do not have to watch sports and go to stadiums. We can get a different pastime hobby.

  32. Ted Hampton says:

    The NFL needs to wise up and start fining players or penalizing the teams who make hate poses or political stands while on the football field. How about roughing the fans?

  33. carvercountyconservativepac says:

    Yeah but…………. It’s the NFL – Many of us could care less, because we don’t care about the NFL, anymore, home teams, etc. It’s become a politicized pig sty!

  34. Kevin Vaughn says:

    For the second season in a row, @boycottnfl is loud and strong and showing up in the rating numbers.

    I’ve been a fan all my life, but I refuse to buy a product that turns around and spits in my face!

    The NFL is in real danger of people realizing they have better things to do on a Sunday afternoon than to watch football.

  35. No Fans Left…..No Freaking Logic…….Not For Long…….Sitters are quitters, and Kneelers are Whiners

  36. I had not noticed. I’ve taken to doing chores and going to church and having fun with my friends and family on Sunday’s. College football is better anyway.

    Boycott the NFL. How long can you love something that does not love you?

  37. Nathan Smith says:

    well Soccer plays 90 minutes nonstop and they score 1-2 goals and they make millions .. so ..whats the big deal about more touchdowns ?

  38. Nathan Smith says:

    Why do I want to watch a bunch of huge millionaires who basically think I caused slavery 150 years after it ended and they hate the flag and USA ?

  39. Kurt Smith says:

    My cohorts and I are very grateful to Kappernick (sp?), Goodell and the rest for permanently putting us off the NFL. we’ve been able to once more rediscover just how truly much more rewarding fishing and drinking beer are on a Sunday afternoon. Thanks Colin, thanks Roger.

  40. Nathan Smith says:

    The Kneelers do not realize its the leftist’s who want violent football banned for concussions and then they would have NO income and be selling life insurance for peanuts .

  41. We haven’t tuned out because of lack of scoring, we tuned out due to lack of MORALS!!!!!!!!!

  42. The biggest factor is Krapernick, but the head trauma problem does take some of the enjoyment out of football for me. I watch half as often, and only via antenna so I am not included in the ratings.

  43. Less practice time. No two-a-days. Collective bargaining for millionaires. Guaranteed money. Why try?

  44. Better look out NBA, the NFL is rapidly approaching to take over your market.

  45. Floyd Martin says:

    You want more points in the game, then do away with the stupid 35 yard line kick off!
    Which results in No Returns ever and no chance of of scoring!

  46. I’ll start watching the NFL again when these stupid atheletes stop sitting during the national anthem. That seems to be the same sentiment from my friends.

  47. I love football, always have. However, they need to learn a lesson from the failing ESPN–LEAVE POLITICS OUT OF FOOTBALL. When you start allowing your players to “protest” you distract from the game and you annoy/pi$$ off HALF your fan base (if not more). Goddell is an idiot for allowing these, they should have been treated like excessive celebration or somehow penalized–FINED would be better. Stop the childish protests, focus on the game, and you will likely see the ratings rebound.

  48. Tired of these overpaid crybaby players and their whining and disrespect for our flag and country. Let them go to any other country and make the salaries they make here. I am not watching the NFL any longer.

  49. For me it’s not so much an issue of what they’re protesting by taking a knee, it’s THAT they’re protesting, drawing away from the reason they’re even there in the first place, & one in which they are sorely lacking in & which they should be spending 100% of their attention on. That’s the deal breaker for me. That tells me they couldn’t give 2 shlts about getting better at football. F them!

  50. Disclaimer “Paid Political Ad” should appear at start of NFL games.

  51. Am I the only one who thinks the “penalty flags” are out of control? When you’ve cramped up the entire team by throwing penalty flags for just sneezing, it kind of affects the way they play? But what do I know?

  52. The NFL has plenty of offense…I take offense with every player who takes a knee or who gets support from other players!

  53. Many of the recent rule changes are affecting offenses. Defensive pass interference nowadays is a joke. A DB practically has to tackle a wide receiver to get flagged. The players choosing to kneel during our national anthem and the NFL’s response to it have taken its toll on ratings. Seeing/knowing NFL players, i.e. entertainers smearing our national anthem hence our great republic has many Americans disgusted. Let them protest peacefully on their own time.

  54. Articles like this show how completely out of touch with reality that the NFL and the media are. It’s not because of lesser touchdowns, morons. It’s because the NFL allows anti-American football players to constantly disrespect our flag and our country. Americans don’t want to watch football only to be berated by leftist ideologies and anti-American rhetoric. We get enough of that on a daily basis. Leave your politics out of sports or continue to watch your numbers plummet.

  55. Eric P Evans says:

    It’s got to be due to global warming. Got to.

  56. People say there is a RACE problem. People say this RACE problem will be solved when the third world pours into EVERY and ONLY into White countries.

    People say the only solution to the RACE problem is if ALL and ONLY White countries “assimilate,” i.e., intermarry, with all those non-Whites.

    But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against White people, Anti-Whites agree that I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

    Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-White.

  57. they took away kick off returns, they flag players because they may hurt other players lolololololol its so ridiculous. and THEN they get political….and oh, they cant understand why their league is losing cash?

    its so stupid that i laugh just writing about it lolol

  58. the political is an issue but along with that what drives me crazy is, there will be a big touchdown play, you will get excited, then every time a flag on the play and the TD doesn’t count ball comes back. It’s horrible.

  59. Only suckers support “professional” athletics.
    Were it not for the sport, most of the players would be in jail or on welfare!

  60. In my second boycott season if NFL now, don’t miss it one bit. My football fix is easily satisfied on Saturdays. I only wish my college team didn’t suck, and the non-player students weren’t brainwashed as badly as Komrade Kaperprick by the commie pinko faculty.

  61. Or maybe you idiots should just stop kneeling at the flag so you can respect yourself. Fire all of those creeps and get on with the game.

  62. I make $5,392 each play by throwing the game for my team. As qb I can get a regular paycheck plus a little on the side (wink…wink). And why not? While my team mates are worrying about sitting during the national anthem, I am counting the new cars and houses (and islands once the hurricane season is over) that I can buy after this season is over.

  63. Hey, the tag line up by the pictures – the word is “separate”. Use spell check please when you’re writing for a web page.

  64. Maybe it’s too hard to score while sanctimoniously virtue-signalling on a deeply callused knee. Hope the NFL crashes and burns. All but the knees, of course.

  65. Mark Meyer says:

    Keep up with the political commentary and football will be gone. Cut the political hackery and throw out anyone who does not stand for the Anthem. Watch your ratings go up.

  66. So . . . can you say “small sample size.” And the idea that a reduction in scoring after two weeks accounts for smaller TV audiences is rather silly. Did this would-be viewers know ahead of time that there would be little scoring? If your idea has any bearing in reality, then you’d have to measure NEXT WEEK’S viewing. Apparently nobody teaches critical thinking to sports journalists.

  67. Like millions of others, we are a four-generation FOOTBALL FAMILY! Games are sacrosanct; we know the players, teams, coaches, owners, and history, and we respect tradition. We buy tickets, balls, helmets, jerseys; and listen to round the clock sports talk and visit other stadiums when in their towns. We plan weddings, baptisms, and vacations around the NFL calendar.

    Now, with the vile MOCKING OF OUR NATION and the WEAKNESS of the NFL “leadership,” I am SICK AT HEART! Since Roger Goodell has made such a terrible mess, why doesn’t he just resign? Oh, that’s right, in Roger’s happy world, all things are allowed, and consequences have to be run through his personal PC meter; with two sets of rules, of course!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More From CBS Boston

Opioid Crisis
Download Our App
Download Weather App

Watch & Listen LIVE